An invasive shrub from Japan is here and it’s blooming now | Lehigh Valley Nature Observation

It is almost the end of August and our recent weather is typical of this time of year. Heavy rains from a tropical storm followed by miserably hot and humid days are the kind of weather this month usually brings.

The outside world is green everywhere, a scene we all expected last winter when 3 feet of snow covered the ground. All cultivated and wild plants are large and flowering, although not all are welcome.

Japanese knotweed, an invasive shrub that can grow 10 feet or more tall, is currently covered in whitish or pale green flowers. This member of the buckwheat family is on almost every noxious weed list because its underground roots, or rhizomes, repel all other plants when they spread horizontally. .

As with most invasive species, knotweed has been moved from its home range for its erosion control properties. In the 1800s, he moved from Nagasaki, Japan, the Netherlands, then to Kew Gardens in London before appearing in Philadelphia.

Nowadays, it is a vilified plant in the British Isles, so much so that its presence must be noted on real estate deeds. He was even blamed for a murder / suicide in which a desperate landowner was unable to sell his property due to the knotweed on it so he killed his wife and then himself.

On a brighter note, the wild clematis (Clematis virginiana), or woodbine, is also blooming. This twining vine with fragrant white flowers can also grow to 10 feet or more, but it is native to eastern North America. There are several in our fields and one about 8 feet tall pushes a pole support at the front of our property.

At this time of summer most toads and frogs are silent, but all kinds of insects are getting louder and louder now. Katydids, crickets and annual cicadas fill the air with chirping, buzzing and other sounds day and night,

It’s hard to tell these bugs apart, but I found a website called songsofinsects.com that is a big help. There you’ll find photos of insects singing during the warmer months, with a 4-minute recording of many of them singing as a thunderstorm approaches.

At this time of summer, every night different moths fly around the yard or perch outside or on lighted windows or panes. Sometimes they fly in our windows or open doors, so sometimes in the morning there are moths on the curtains above the sink.

Some of the butterflies are quite attractive or interesting. The 8-point forest butterfly is black and white, while the tiny tee-shaped ones don’t look like moths at all.

Medium sized sphinxes or sphinxes like pandora or papaya can be easily identified. And it is even easier to identify some of the giant silkworms like cecropia, prometheus or polyphemus. But the one most people are familiar with is the large, pale green moon butterfly.

Adult luna butterflies are often found clinging to a doorway or other structure where they stay for days, as they only live for about a week. The females emit a pheromone that attracts the males, they mate, it lays eggs, and then they both die.

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